Northampton resident brings experience to administrator job in Deerfield


  • Deerfield town offices building just outside the center of town. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

For the Gazette
Thursday, March 02, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Northampton’s Wendy Foxmyn is bringing decades of experience in small town government to bear on her job as Deerfield’s new administrator.

“It’s endless opportunities and challenges. You name it — everything from snowplowing to solar energy — it’s always interesting,” she said about what draws her to work in small towns.

“First of all, I like the people I work with. The town has excellent employees. I’ve always liked my work in local government. It’s been my life,” Foxmyn said recently, sitting inside her office in the town’s municipal building. “I appreciate small towns. The community connections, the volunteers, and I have a big volunteer life as well. I appreciate what they do.”

Last month, Foxmyn signed a three-year contract as the town’s administrator, following a job offer by the selectboard. Her role in Deerfield is the latest in a local government career in the Pioneer Valley that has spanned more than 30 years.

“Smaller communities may demand more from an administrator than larger ones, because in many ways, with smaller departments and a strong reliance on volunteers, the town administrator has to know everything in a way a town manager in a larger community might not,” she said. “You have to have an overview of land use, environmental issues, human resources, budgets, public records, energy, technology.”

Over the years, Foxmyn has “written a lot of grants,” served on a variety of government and nonprofit committees and been part of organizations ranging from the Greenfield Senior Center, where she was an interim director, to playing violin with the Pioneer Valley Symphony to serving on Northampton’s Public Works Commission.

Starting in the 1980s and after graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in urban affairs, Foxmyn was one of the region’s first town administrators in Leyden, though the position there was called administrative assistant at the time.

Later, she became a “circuit rider,” a regional town administrator covering Huntington, Worthington, Blandford and Chester. Around that time, Foxmyn also launched into a parallel career in mediation through a training program at the University of Massachusetts.

Since then, she’s worked as a municipal law paralegal with attorney Donna MacNicol, helped start the Greenfield Housing Partnership, served as resource and development coordinator at Franklin Regional Council of Governments and has been grants coordinator for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. She has also been regional programs manager at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, director of The Mediation & Training Collaborative, town administrator in Sunderland and interim administrator for Longmeadow, Leverett, Northfield and Deerfield.

In light of her extensive background, Foxmyn said, “I’ve appreciated having people on boards with a range of perspectives — which Deerfield’s Select Board has. I value everyone for whatever they bring to the table.”

Foxmyn, a Northampton resident originally from New York, calls herself a “semi-quasi native,” claiming the Pioneer Valley as home. Foxmyn moved to Greenfield in 1977. “I stood in the middle of Greenfield, at Federal and Main and said, ‘I love this place.’”

Looking ahead, she described Deerfield as “extraordinary, so many aspects to this beautiful rural town with many farms, hills, the river, the second largest tourist attraction in the state (Yankee Candle), several prep schools, the state’s first economic and industrial commission, and a rich and long history. I’m here at an interesting time.”